Ukraine, Jun16: For once, the usually meticulously prepared Germany coach Joachim Loew was caught out.
The fact that Loew didn't know was that Denmark has never lost to Germany under coach Morten Olsen, who has been in charge since 2000. There have been three friendlies since then, two wins for Denmark, one draw.
On Saturday, one day ahead of Germany's last European Championship match in Group B against Olsen's team, Loew was taken aback by the statistic. However, he believed a defeat for Olsen's side was an inevitability at some point.
“That surprises me, but it has to happen some time,” he said.
So, if there is a time for Germany to beat its northern neighbor, it's the match in Lviv, Ukraine.
Germany, a three-time champion, needs a draw to win the group, and is not certain of qualifying despite two wins from two games. Denmark upset the Netherlands, lost to Portugal and still can advance.
The last time the two teams met in a tournament was in 1992, when Denmark stunned Germany to win the European Championship as a team that was a late replacement for the banned Yugoslavia.
“Our position is clear, we still have not qualified,” Loew said. “We have a difficult job. Denmark can advance, they can achieve a sensation.
“Before the tournament, many people considered them an outsider. But our scouts told us two-three months ago that the Danes could play a big role at this tournament. We have analyzed them thoroughly, they are a very compact team, they are not outsiders. We can't underestimate them.”
Loew said there was no question of him resting any players.
“It's an incredibly difficult game and if I were to make a change that would only be because I thought it was necessary for this game. Denmark is a compact unit, they play with stoic calm while being very dynamic,” Loew said.
The Netherlands plays Portugal at the same time in Kharkiv, Ukraine and has to win by two goals and hope Germany to beat Denmark to have any hope of advancing.
Don't expect any favors from the Germans for the Dutch. Germany is seeking its first title since 1996.
“The Dutch have put themselves into this tough position. We want to play well and win, we are not interested in the other game,” Loew said.
Loew said his team will not be keeping an eye on the other match very closely.
“I am not going to have someone give me updates every 10 minutes. As a coach I want to focus on my game, although one way or another we'll know what's going on,” he said.
Germany will be without right back Jerome Boateng, who is suspended. Loew would not say who would replace him.
“We have a deep bench,” he said.
Lukas Podolski will be playing his 100th game for Germany and at 27 he will be the youngest German to reach the milestone.
“The goal this summer is not the 100, but the 103 and I am optimistic that it will happen,” Podolski said.
That would not only equal Franz Beckenbauer's appearances but also mean Germany would be in the final.